The Best Arbuckle/Keaton Collection
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A rising star who rose from bit player to writer, director, and star of comedies for Mack Sennett's Keystone Film Company, Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle recruited up-and-coming vaudeville comic Buster Keaton for a series of films from 1917 through 1919. Presented chronologically, these shorts demonstrate Keaton's evolution from bit player to full partner as both men honed their comedic skills. Following the 1921 scandal that was inflamed by a publicity-seeking prosecutor and the tabloid press, Arbuckle's films were withdrawn from circulation in America. The films in this collection were gathered from international archives and private collections, with new English intertitles and digitally mastered from 35mm, some directly from the nitrate originals.
The Best Arbuckle/Keaton Collection literally defines the phenomenon of genius in the making. While showcasing the formidable slapstick talents of Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle as director and star, this 12-title compilation is also a remarkable study of Buster Keaton's rapid evolution as a silent comedy master. Made in swift succession from 1917 to 1919, these chronologically sequenced two-reelers serve a dual purpose, re-establishing Arbuckle as an underrated talent (his career was tragically curtailed by an infamous rape scandal, despite his eventual exoneration), while crediting his mentorship of Keaton from Vaudeville veteran to inspired movie pioneer. The "Great Stone Face" had yet to emerge (though it's evident in Keaton's 1917 debut, "The Butcher Boy"), so Buster's innately amusing countenance is wondrously animated here, especially in "Coney Island," which doubles as an illustrious postcard from a bygone era. The final collaboration, "The Garage," was Buster's favorite, and it's easy to see why: with a giant turntable, fire hoses, grease buckets, and all varieties of gag-laden shtick, it's a sublime (and like most of these films, well-preserved) example of two gifted comedians at the peak of their craft. --Jeff Shannon
- Brochure by Jeffrey Vance, co-author of Buster Keaton Remembered
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Neither Keaton nor Arbuckle have any fixed persona in these films. One of the treats of this set is to see Buster playing all kinds of characters with all kinds of reactions. In "Oh, Doctor" he plays Arbuckle's son who is often in a fit of tears, in "Coney Island" he plays a lifeguard and nemesis to Arbuckle's character, laughing and smiling at different points throughout the film. In "Good Night Nurse" Keaton plays a quack doctor who smiles and flirts with Arbuckle - a patient disguised as a nurse who is trying to escape Keaton's clinic.
"The Cook", which is on the set "The Cook and Other Treasures", to me is the best of the Keaton and Arbuckle shorts for specifically showing off Arbuckle's talents, from his great juggling talent to his version of the dance of Salome. It' definitely worth a look after you finish this set.
A very nice compilation with a pretty lower price and two more comedies than Kino's edition.
Disc 1: The Butcher Boy; The Rough House; His Wedding Night; Oh, Doctor; Coney Island; Out West; The Bell Boy; Moonshine (only a fragment)
Disc 2: Good Night; Back Stage; The Hayseed; The Garage
These guys were wild yet their hilarity is surpassed by their ingenuity. Everything is a comedy prop. Favorite skits are from The Bell Boy, the man’s haircut, elevator and moose head scenes.
Gotta love Roscoe with the cute innocent faces he makes and respect him for his agility as a large man. Watch Buster as he does a standing backflip!
Remember Jackie Coogan, Uncle Fester, from TVs The Addams Family? His dad, John, is in two of these movies. Al St. John, Roscoe’s nephew, is in all but two of these movies made in 1917-1919. 248 minutes with a small booklet. The visual quality is very good and so is the music. Favorite movies: The Bell Boy, Coney Island, The Garage. I recommend this for everybody.